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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

Going to WAR To Fix The Hall of Fame

by Paul Semendinger

February 27, 2024

(Note - This article was originally published in the IBWAA's newsletter, Here's The Pitch on February 24, 2024)

***

Let's begin this article with a very clear statement of the obvious:


There are players who are not in the Baseball Hall of Fame who deserve to be there

Over the years, the Hall of Fame has tried, in many different ways, mostly through select committees, to fix this problem. Often times the committees exacerbate the problem. A few years ago both Ted Simmons and Thurman Munson were on the same ballot. Simmons got in, Munson did not. To many this seemed unfair. To many, it made no sense. When they played, Munson was seen as the better player. I don't want to debate that point, that is not the focus of this article, rather it is just an example of how when a committee votes, the results create more (not less) debate and more (not less) confusion.


Often times, the committees seem to elect compromise choices rather than the best players. We end up with players who were pretty darn good, but not great. The great players are left out of the Hall of Fame while players, often contemporaries who they were better than, remain on the outside looking in.


As long as there are various committees to look back over baseball history to meet, discuss, and select candidates, this will continue. The baseball world, with this approach, will continually be underwhelmed when the committees announce their selections.


I have a solution to all of this.


This is a simple solution.


I'll admit that it's not the best solution. But it is also the most straight forward and fair approach:


The Hall of Fame should use a standard baseball performance measurement, one that is universally accepted as legitimate, and starting with the four highest ranked members currently not in the Hall of Fame, and whose eligibility through the BBWAA has passed, and include them, four at a time, into the Hall of Fame.


One can use lifetime home runs, batting average, OPS+, ERA, pitcher wins, or any other statistic so long as they keep with that standard, always. The standard cannot change from year-to-year. In short, the Hall of Fame should decide on a statistical standard and use that to enshrine the most deserving players who the BBWAA and the select committees overlooked for one reason or another.


My proposal would be to use Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Yes, I know WAR has its detractors. That's fine. If they want to use a different measuring tool, as long as it stays consistent, that's also fine. But, without debating the merits of WAR, let's simply look how this would play out beginning in 2025 (using Baseball-Reference's WAR):


2025 WAR Selections: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Pete Rose, Curt Schilling


(Again, I left out Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout, and etc... because they are either still playing, not yet eligible for the BBWAA writers, or are still on the ballot.)


OH BOY! Now I did it. My proposal immediately brings up PEDs and Gambling and one of the most devisive players/personalities in recent Hall of Fame debating.


I don't wish to have those debates here. They are discussions for another time. So, let's move past them and stick with the next highest WAR players for the simple and express point of seeing what a process like this would look like:


2025 WAR Selections: Zack Greinke, Jim McCormick, Bill Dahlen, Lou Whitaker


That sounds like a very far and very balanced list of inductees. Each has a lifetime WAR over 75. These aren't borderline candidates by this measure, they're slam dunks. (Most experts conclude that 60 WAR is borderline.)


Opponents of my plan would probably claim that I'm watering down the Hall of Fame. But, in actually, I wouldn't be. I'd be including players who others missed for whatever reasons. Those are four very worthy players.


Let's continue with the next few years of selections (assuming that any player not eligible or still on the ballot above these players would be elected by the BBWAA):


2026 WAR Selections: Bobby Grich, Rick Reushel, Kenny Lofton, and Graig Nettles


All of these players have a WAR of 67.9 or better. The Hall of Fame is no less prestigeous with these players being included.


Let's continue:


2027 WAR Selections: Kevin Brown, Dwight Evans, Tony Mullane, Buddy Bell


2028 WAR Selections: Luis Tiant, Willie Randolph, Reggie Smith, Ken Boyer


2029 WAR Selections: David Cone, Jack Glasscock, Tommy John, Sal Bando


We're still, by the way at 61.5 WAR or better...


This process also allows the baseball community to learn about forgotten players like Jack Glasscock who (according to the SABR Biography Project) "is considered by many to have been the best shortstop of the nineteenth century, earning him the accolade “King of the Shortstops.” It seems to me that this forgotten player deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.


But, if the argument is that this process selects too many players too quickly, then the process can be reduced to just three WAR players each year. (To be honest, I wanted to use three as my measurement, but I figured it was best to group the first four players together to get those debates out of the way at the start.)


If we went with three WAR players per year, it would be quite a while before we ever reached players without Hall-Worthy statistics. (And, if the PED debate was ended and those players were also let in, this process would take even longer.)


2025: Zack Greinke, Jim McCormick, Bill Dahlen


2026: Lou Whitaker, Bobby Grich, Rick Reushel


2027: Kenny Lofton, Graig Nettles, Kevin Brown


2028: Dwight Evans, Tony Mullane, Buddy Bell


2029: Luis Tiant, Willie Randolph, Reggie Smith


2030: Ken Boyer, David Cone, Jack Glasscock


2031: Tommy John, Sal Bando, Tommy Bond


Once and for all, over a very long (but very fair process) the Hall of Fame would be able to include the worthy players who have been left out and/or forgotten.


It's time we do this. It's time for the Hall of Fame to be the place where all the best players are recognized - doing so only enhances the sport.


Let's go to WAR to fix the Baseball Hall of Fame.

32 commentaires


Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
27 févr.

I am not a fan of Pete Rose. I don't like him as a person. He always played for teams I rooted against, so I was always rooting against Pete Rose. There was the alleged statutory rape charge. And worst of all, he bet on baseball, including on his own team. With all of that being said, the Hall Of Fame seems extremely incomplete as long as Pete Rose is not in it. There are many people in the Hall Of Fame who were not model citizens, and in fact, were terrible people off the field. Some were terrible people even on the field (I won't name names). But I think the Hall Of Fame should be specifically …

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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
28 févr.
En réponse à

LOL!

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Mike Whiteman
27 févr.

I can respect having a standard of some type for induction.


But gosh, without the buildup and following revealed votes, what will I do all winter?


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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
27 févr.
En réponse à

This would be in addition to the BBWAA vote.

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
27 févr.

I don't see getting people into the Hall of Fame as anywhere near as important as getting the undeserving ones out. There should be a retention vote ever 25 or 30 or 40 years (I'm flexible on that), and if you don't get over 50%, your plaque get crowbarred off the wall. Goodbye Rabbit Maranville and Rick Ferrell and all of Frankie Frisch's cronies! And with a little luck, goodbye Cap Anson, may your racist soul roast in eternity.

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bgrindler1
27 févr.

There are already some unofficial standards: 300 Wins, 3,000 hits, it used to be 500 home runs, but that has been thrown into disarray due to PEDS.

I don't think having a hard standard works, as statistics do not tell the whole story. For example I have seen many people question why Rabbit Maranville is in the Hall of Fame based on just traditional statistics, though when you read a biography of him it states that he was considered one of the best defensive shortstops of his time. In the future some people might say the same thing about Ozzie Smith, as defensive is really something you have to see.

Plus we wouldn't have these debates if such hard standards…

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bgrindler1
28 févr.
En réponse à

Actually all that were listed, with the cravat that I'd have to do more research on the 1800s players, and if I had a vote I would vote for Tommy John.

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Melfman1
Melfman1
27 févr.

I definitely see your point. I just think that WAR has become the new metric to gauge player’s value and I think it leaves much to be desired (more from a batter’s standpoint than on the pitching end).

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
27 févr.
En réponse à

I'm all good with a different metric...

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